A/N: I'm evil. I'm sorry. Still don't know why this took so long. I hope it's worth the wait. Turned into a more Gabe/Ian friendship chapter. I'm getting to the end of this folksa few more chapters, but not many. Just warning you.
All in all things were progressing nicely with Ian and Vicky. They were at the point where they both felt comfortable having dinner dates at their own homes. Sadly Vicky didn't particularly care for the mansion. She shivered as she entered trying to escape the all-seeing eyes of the large portrait of Kenneth Irons in the hall. In her gut Vicky was certain the painting was possessed.
Ian approached quietly and stood next to his lovely for a moment before she startled at his presence. "Geez Ian. Squeak or something. Drag your feet maybe but don't sneak up on me like that!" she fussed completely flustered. Ian's gaze dropped to the floor and naturally returned to his more guarded stance in silence. Vicky noticed immediately. One of the reasons this works with us is he doesn't go submissive on me,' Vicky thought. No shouting at Ianever.' Suddenly a very naughty thought scurried across her brain. Well maybe no shouting in anger.'
"Hey, I'm sorry," Vicky whispered stroking Ian's arms with her hands moving into his personal space quite successfully. "I'm used to so much quiet and stillness that when things are quiet and still and something changes it unnerves me."
Ian looked at her confused, "Because you work in a morgue, quiet things bother you?"
She sighed, "No more like there are things in the world I can't explain and there have been times in the past where things have moved without my awareness. Now I don't talk about that cause they'd lock me up but I hope you can understand how weird it is to be standing silently in front of a painting and then a second later with no sound, movement or inclination a tall, bulky man is standing behind you." Ian gazed down again. "We've never talked about your formertendencies in any detail. I don't fear you but I understand you are a man to be feared."
"I make you uncomfortable," the former stalker said sadly.
"No Ianno. This house makes me uncomfortableskittish even. Besides when we're hereyou aren't you," the coroner explained.
"I do not understand."
"Herein this mansionyou are the heir to a great fortune You wearascots." He looked at her quizzically. "When we're out you wear dark clothes and your hair hangs in your facecurls and all. You may rarely take off your gloves but you are marginally relaxed. Sara even told me that once she saw you in braids playing basketball. I would have paid money to see thatThe point is in this house its like there is a thousand pound weight on your body. It's hard to watchIt's hard to see you hurt and not admit it. It's hard to know that you won't leave out of obligation."
Ian blinked a few times staring at Vicky like she was speaking a foreign language he didn't know. "What is it that you want Vicky? This is my home. It has been since I was a child. I know no other way. I know no other home."
"Show me you in this place and I will never mention it again," she stated.
Ian shook his head, "That is not the point. I can show you me in this place and it will make you unhappy. I am not a free spirit. I do not behave in flippant mannersIn this place what I am is dark and hard and cold. In this place the things that are mine are weapons and training gear. I am what my father made me."
"A solider," Vicky snipped slightly.
"Is that what you want Ian? To be a warrior? I was under the impression you were trying to become more than your confines. I was under the impression you wanted more."
"Why are we having this discussion?" Ian questioned pulling away.
"Because you want to be seen. That is what you told me the first day we met. One of the things that was attractive about me was I saw you and you desperately wanted to be seen. Well Ianthis is what keeps you invisible. Every time you come back here you take on that cloak of invisibility again. It may keep you safe but it also keeps you lonely," Vicky stated with absolute authority.
Ian's face remained emotionless throughout her speech. What did she want from him? "Am I to move Vicky? Am I to become a kept man?"
"What?" she questioned as he folded his arms over his chest and raised an eyebrow at her. "No Ian I wasn't saying that I just You're happy, at least I think you're happy when you leave this place. I just thought you would be" Vicky began to gasp and choke on nothing. She clutched at her throat about to collapse. Invisible thumbs began to crush her windpipe.
Ian caught Vicky pulling her into his arm in a firemen's carry. He looked up at the painting and glared. In a moment of sheer will, Ian held Vicky tight and moved them both to the lawn out front of the house. He sat them on the grass as she gasped for air deeply. "WhWhat the hell was that?" she creaked out in a harsh voice.
Ian swallowed and laid his forehead to Vicky's, "Evil." She raised her head a bit to look into his face. "I'll move. I'm not sure where to but I will move." He settled her head back into the crock of his neck whispering to himself, "He will not take you from me."
"Talismanic?" Gabriel answered.
"Father hurt Vicky. I need to move out of my home quicklyI also need a place to stay until I decide what to do next."
Gabriel sat confused, "What do you mean 'Father hurt Vicky.' I was under the impression that dear daddy is dead to the world."
"Not entirely. He has pullinfluence," Ian explained.
"So Kenny is mostly dead but slightly alive."
"Well wouldn't the writer of the Princess Bride love to hear that," the hacker smirked.
"Excuse me," the assassin questioned.
"Nevermind. You can stay here of course but don't you think there is someplace Daddy owned that you could live in?"
"I would fear a repeat performance I would honestly only feel safe if a priest came in and blessed it."
"OkaySend me over a list of residences in the near area that you own and I'll take care of things as best I can. Otherwise I need to know what you're looking for in a house before I can search for one for you," Gabriel explained.
"Do you want another estate? You'll be putting a great many people out of a job."
"I had not considered the staff. Several I can retire and the rest I can keep onso if you could look for another estate that would be fine Some place where the Witchblade has never beenSomeplace where there has been no death or battles."
"AlrightReal estate agents are you going to go nuts with that request. Just come on over now and I'll play for a whileIs Vicky okay?"
"Shaken She felt justified in believing the painting in the front hall was possessed now. I imagine we will be spending the majority of our time at her residence until I settle in. It is unfortunately entirely possible that due to the nature of my relationship with Father I may be unable to escape him," the eloquent man spoke.
Gabriel sighed rubbing his left eye, "We'll figure something out. Besides I need a guy to talk tomy brothers and sister have been no help."
"You need my help?"
"You know Sara."
"I see I will arrive shortly."
"Is Vicky feeling better about things?" Gabriel questioned as Ian entered his warehouse.
"SettledHappy I'm leaving."
As Ian set down his bag Gabriel retrieved the list of locations from Ian's hands. "Lets trade lists here There is an estate a mile or two from your current homehas a horse ranch and everything."
"Lovely There is one location closer to Vicky that I used to visit as a boy that I loved. Not as large as the manor but I can keep on a few employees. A cook, maid, grounds-man, driver and horse trainer would be useful. I'll see about the rest tomorrow."
"Well since you already own it."
"Find me a priest and I will be a happy man," Ian said with a sigh sitting himself on the couch.
"For you and Vicky or is this for the house?" Gabriel chided.
Ian smirked cruelly, " Very funny my young friend."
The former stalker tilted his head and observed the hacker. "How are things with our favorite detective?"
Gabe grit his teeth and let out a huge sigh, "At a stand still."
"And what does that mean?"
"I keep backing offWe're becoming an old married couple, more friends than anything else."
Ian quirked his eyebrow, "Why is that? Things were proceeding"
"That isn't quite what I meant," Gabriel admitted.
"You are not endeavoring in a se"
Gabe cut him off, "I know what I'm not endeavoring in, thank you."
Ian sat quietly for a moment. "Things have not moved forward since" Gabe shook his head. "Sara would allow you control if your intentions were pure," Ian assured his friend.
"I love Sara and when we started out we were like you and Vic, but"
"But things went badly," Ian finished after a long pause from Gabriel. "Trust her and yourself."
Another pregnant pause, "I'm scared." The truth spoken so softly.
"So am I, but for different reasons. I have no experience in such matters yet I know Victoria is worth my time, effort, and affection. It will be more than pleasure and that is what is important It will mean something to us both. You and Sara are the same in many ways. You just have to move away from the notion that it will be about Sara's pleasure excluding all else. I know making love is about commitment and love to you. The question is are you secure enough with her? If you can see beyond this act as a demand you will be much happier."
Gabriel sat quietly, "But what if it happens again? What if I freeze up?"
Ian chuckled soothingly, "So what if you do? Most newly weds do not make love their first night together because of stress I'm going to quote your speech to me not long ago." In a mock-Gabriel voice Ian said, "Don't put so much pressure on yourself. Something will always go wrong. Leave yourself some breathing room and relax!" He tilted his head, "Thus endth the lesson."
Gabriel bit his lip; "I'm beginning to feel like the virgin in this conversation."
Ian shrugged, "What did you do your first time?"
Shaking his head Gabe said, "It wasn't this important before."
Sighing Ian stated, "Gabriel stop. Were you scared your first time?" There came a reluctant nod. "What did you do to calm yourself?"
The hacker thought it over; "I just let myself keep holding and touching when I normally would have held back I just can't imagine Sara being willing to go slow."
With a smirk came, "Neither can I, but her former selves were very receptive to slow seduction."
"Hey quit thinking about doing my girlfriend I don't care that it's a past life," Gabriel glared at his friend.
Ian smiled, "She loves you. If you want slow she will go at a snail's pace."
Nottingham settled in for the night on a cot in the warehouse. "You'll be good here," Gabe informed his guest. "You know where everything isJust don't rack up phone sex charges and I'll be happy."
Ian was first shocked for a second then smirked, "That's what cell phones are for." He patted his pocket.
Gabriel smirked back, "Very good Nottingham."
As Gabe left the room Ian decided to one up him, "Besides phone calls to Vicky do not cost."
The hacker stopped mid-step. He turned to look at his friend, "I don't know if I should be proud or terrified."
A/N: My fourth gargoyle has been named by my husband; its Zephaniah. So that means all the names of my gargoyles imply protection in their meaning. I'm very pleased. He seems to be playing nice with the others.